Slain Berrien Co. bailiff laid to rest

St. Joseph pays tribute to Joseph Zangaro

Officers salute as the body of Joe Zangaro is carried out of the Mendel Center. (July 15, 2016)

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of officers filled Lake Michigan College Friday to pay their respects to a bailiff shot and killed inside the Berrien County Courthouse on Monday.

Approximately 1,500 people packed the college’s Mendel Center to honor Joseph Zangaro, including about 800 officers from across Michigan, Indiana and elsewhere.

Zangaro and Ron Kienzle were fatally shot by defendant Larry Gordon, who disarmed and shot Berrien County Deputy James Atterberry Jr. outside a third floor courtroom before the killings.

While all of the officers who attended Friday’s celebration of life service may not have known Zangaro personally, they know it could easily have been them running toward the gunfire.

“Every police officer and everyone who works in the courts, you know, they go to work every morning and they never know what the day brings is a common phrase of mine.” said Capt. Michael Brown, commander of Michigan State Police’s 5th District.

“That was just a terrible day. And we’re having those around the country,” he added.

Zangaro was a Michigan State Police veteran who took over as security chief at the Berrien County courthouse after retiring 13 years ago.

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said the 61-year-old officer was respected even by the people he put behind bars.

“I got lots of calls from people that he had worked calls on or arrested that said, ‘Hey, Joe was a fair and honest guy and treated me right,” recalled Bailey.

As for Friday’s service, the sheriff said Zangaro would have appreciated the sentiments.

“He would say cry for a while, but go back to work and protect the citizens of this country,” Bailey said.

Kienzle’s memorial service is scheduled for Monday at the Mendel Center.

Atterberry was released from the hospital Wednesday. A fourth person wounded in the attack, Kenya Ellis, was listed in stable condition Monday.

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